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Can they re-use their windows?


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I have a client who will be stripping the existing siding off the home, adding a 2nd story, and installing new fiber-cement panel siding over furring strips (rainscreen.)

Their existing window are "retro-fit" dual-pane, low-e units but with no integral flange. They would like to re-use the windows to save costs.

I am not aware of a way to re-use the windows and integrate them correctly with the new WRB and siding.

I contacted a field rep for Milgard and even he wasn't much help; "Well it probably won't work, but maybe there's a way. . . " was his response.

Does anyone have any published standard, mfg's spec's, or architectural detail showing how this could be done?

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We've done it. You need to find a sheet metal vendor with a CNC operation. Scratch out a profile for head, side, and sill pan flashing on the screen, they roll it out in whatever material you need in a few seconds.

Mount on window, install. At first, it seemed complicated, but it's not, and it's not expensive. It's a couple dozen bucks per window, tops. It's about finding the right sheet metal shop.

The flip side of that is, I'm not sure if I'd want to put that much energy into Milgards.

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Are you talking about a replacement window installed inside the original frame? If so leave them where they are and buy new windows for the new addition. Any siding guy worth his salt can trim them out to match.

I wouldn't recommend Milgard either. Why would they want a 'used' cheap product in their new project?

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Dave, fenestration has been my day job for the last 20 years. The very best thing they can do with Milgard replacement windows is replace them. Second best would be to leave them where they are. There may well be a flange available for the windows they have, but they will be throwing good money after bad trying to recycle them into the new work.

Case in point, I once repaired a beloved bay window that was the only item salvaged from a house that essentially burned to the ground. It would have been considerably cheaper to replace it with a brand new unit that looked exactly the same, and that hadn't been subjected to the fire or the tens of thousands of gallons of water it took to douse it.

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If the budget precludes replacing the windows, just flash them in place with Vycor, integrated with the new WRB. Wipe down the vinyl with acetone before applying the Vycor.

Be sure to use wide trim on all sides of the window to allow for future repair and replacement without disturbing the surrounding siding.

It's not ideal, but it will work. There's no point in putting expensive flashing on cheap windows. With this method, they can upgrade the window installation on the next rehab in 20 years.

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He's talking about a rain screen, so there's going to be a need to move them outward in the wall plane. That can be done, they just need to fir out the rough opening, extend the window casings and then install the windows and flash the whole thing accordingly.

Extending window casings has been regularly done for years; usually when a builder strips the siding off an older house with 2 by 4 studded walls and wants to apply foam insulation on the exterior before installing the siding. It's done exactly the same way for rain screen walls over 2 by 6 framing. I suspect it will require installing some foam insulation around the extended casings before flashing them, in order to prevent condensation occurring between the inner and outer walls on the window casing, but with careful flashing it should not be an issue.

Do a search for "extended window jambs" or "how to extend window casings" and I bet you'll find what you need, Randy.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I can see their point but it would work in hot areas too by shading the window from direct sunlight. Still, it's a matter of taste isn't it? If a homeowner likes the look of the windows on the outer plane of the wall versus recessed, that's where they'll want to put it unless you can concince them otherwise.

Some folks like those extended inside sills. They make nice shelves or a place for the cat to sit - or in my case, a sub-miniature dog.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Thanks y'all. Sounds like there's no clear right or wrong when it comes to re-using the windows if one is willing to detail the opening--whatever it will be--carefully enough.

BTW, my father-in-law was heavily involved in construction defect litigation on the west coast for 20 years as an architect/expert witness. His data shows that Milgard windows were some of the best.

Must be a left coast thing. . .

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Window problems are almost always the result of improper installation; industry stats support that position. (Except for specific instances, like Pella Proline, or certain runs of WeatherShield.) Other stats indicate that almost all windows are installed improperly.

Your father in law's data doesn't show the windows are "some of the best", because they aren't; it indicates someone installed them satisfactorily. Maybe folks out West know how to install windows.

Milgard isn't the worst, or anything like it; it's just another cheap builder's grade window.

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There was an article in Fine Homebuilding about 14 or 15 years ago about vinyl windows. Apparently, according to FHB, there are more than 3000 vinyl window manufacturers in the US and less than three dozen make a good product.

Don't shoot the messenger; and, no, I don't know what companies those are. I'm an old fart. I can't remember stuff five years ago, I sure as heck can't remember those companies after 14 or 15 years.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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It's quite a bit less now. Lotta consolidation in the window business.

I got the stats from a window mfg's. professional society. It was something like 87% of window problems are related to installation and >90% of all windows are installed improperly.

So, it's hard to know which windows are good from simple review of the number of problems found.

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Including all the little fabricators and licensees, Mr. O's figure might be a little on the low side for that time frame.

Kurt's right about consolidation, lots of big fish devouring little fish. When Certainteed dropped their window something like 36 licensed fabricators folded overnight.

Builder grade products are cheap because something was omitted from the process, some of it is marketing but a lot of it is substance-thinner extrusions, thinner glass, cheaper low E coatings, cheaper balance systems, cheaper hardware, typically all of the above. If one needs to trim a rehab budget, the envelope isn't the place to do it. Buy new windows and put in carpet instead of hardwood or laminate instead of granite. Those items are going to get changed in 10-15 years anyway.

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If one needs to trim a rehab budget, the envelope isn't the place to do it. Buy new windows and put in carpet instead of hardwood or laminate instead of granite. Those items are going to get changed in 10-15 years anyway.

That's the most true statement in the bunch.

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